Tarrant sees drop, but Dallas, Harris counties see increases in distracted driving deaths

AAA Texas campaign

While they dropped in Tarrant County, Dallas and Harris counties saw an uptick in the number of people killed due to distracted driving crashes, according to 2017 statistics released by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Dallas County saw a 20 percent increase in fatal crashes related to distracted driving, while Harris County saw a 62 percent increase.

Major counties such as Dallas, Harris and Travis experienced spikes in the number of fatal distracted driving crashes from 2016 to 2017, while other counties like Bexar and Tarrant experienced a decrease. However, Bexar County saw the greatest number of fatal crashes in the state, totaling 45. Bexar County also had the most total number of distracted driving crashes in the state with 24,021. However, the total crash figure in Bexar County is down from 26,313 in 2016. The statewide total number of fatal distracted driving crashes also decreased year-to-year from 417 in 2016 to 403 in 2017, according to TxDOT.

Distracted driving is not only an epidemic in Texas but across the nation, and kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence.* These numbers likely underestimate the problem because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash, according to the AAA Texas news release. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has conducted numerous studies regarding distracted driving that demonstrate:

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• Drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks like texting or surfing the Internet are two to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash.

• Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.

• 59 percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention, and 12 percent of teen crashes involve cell phone use.

“Just as anti-drunk driving campaigns and related efforts have been effective, our communities must come together to spread knowledge about the dangers of distracted driving,” said Linda von Quintus, vice president of Government and Community Affairs, AAA Texas. “This is why AAA Texas recently launched a new initiative, ‘Don’t Drive Intoxicated, Don’t Drive Intexticated,’ as both driving impaired or distracted can have similar consequences of injury or death.”

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Recent statistics released by TxDOT show year-to-year improvements in some Texas counties from 2016 to 2017, but also show distracted driving deaths are on the rise in the Dallas and Houston areas.

For more information visit AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted

Texas Distracted Driving Crash Statistics (2017)

County/Area Fatal Crashes Fatal Crash Change from 2016

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Bexar 45 -27%

Dallas 18 +20%

Harris 21 +62%

Tarrant 22 -4.4%

Travis 19 +12%

Statewide Total 403 -3.4%

Source: TxDOT